Watercolor Paints And Mediums

About Watercolor Painting

Watercolor paint is a pigment suspended in a water-based solution.  It is a very old form of painting dating back as far as primitive cave paintings and used in Egyptian times for manuscript illustration.

The furtherance of watercolor is embodied in the Renaissance.  Albrecht Durer painted this watercolor, “Young Hare”, in 1502. (Below)

Notable Watercolorist’s in America are Georgia O’keeffe, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Thomas Moran, and Andrew Wyeth.

Watercolor paint contains four main ingredients:  a pigment (color); gum Arabic as a binder to hold the pigment (color); additives like glycerin or honey, and preservatives, and water to dilute the paint for application.

Watercolor paints are either transparent, semi-transparent, or opaque.  The most common application of watercolor paint is on 140lb watercolor paper.  The paper comes in cold-pressed, hot-pressed (smooth), or rough.  I recommend Arches paper and Saunders Waterford.  There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to paint a beautiful watercolor on cheap paper. Invest in the best and you’ll get the best results. 

My favorite companies that make watercolor paint are Winsor & Newton, Holbein, M. Graham, Daniel Smith and Rembrandt.

Watercolor Mediums are substances you can use to add to watercolor paint to make it more transparent, glossy, textured, or even to extend the drying time.  You can read about the different mediums on any of the major online retailers such as Dick Blick,  Jerry’s Artarama, or Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff.  Just type in "Watercolor Mediums" and you'll probably get more than you bargained for.  I don't think any of them are necessary to start painting in watercolor.

Learning to paint in watercolor does take patience and practice.  It really helps to have a good foundation in drawing and composition.   I always say that a painting that has a good drawing and composition for a foundation will always look better than a well-executed painting with a poor drawing and composition.